Audio Video News

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Barry Willis  |  Jan 30, 2000  |  0 comments

The Internet's video parallel to the controversial MP3 free-music phenomenon&mdash;currently being contested in US courts&mdash;quickly reached crisis proportions last week. A judge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ruled against <A HREF=""></A>, a Canadian startup that late last year began retransmitting Canadian and American TV programming over the Internet without permission. On January 28, the judge found in favor of a coalition of plaintiffs, including three of the four major television networks, several movie studios, the <A HREF="">National Basketball Association</A>, and the <A HREF="">National Football League</A>. At the moment, iCraveTV's site has a notice informing visitors that "access to stations and program listings is not available."

 |  Jan 30, 2000  |  0 comments

Looking for the ultimate computer monitor or a very thin home-theater display? <A HREF="">Sharp Corporation</A> has just announced the launch of the world's first television with a liquid-crystal screen and onboard decoder of direct satellite broadcasts. The 30"-diagonal screen is only 2.4" thick, making it the world's largest LCD television, according to Sharp executives.

Jon Iverson  |  Jan 30, 2000  |  0 comments

In an effort to kickstart the digital feature-film production and distribution market, <A HREF="">Intertainer</A> and <A HREF="">Artisan Entertainment</A> announced last week a new agreement to co-develop, produce, and distribute five feature-length motion pictures, to be shot and edited completely in the digital format. Intertainer says it will showcase the films on its entertainment "on-demand" service, and Artisan will retain domestic rights to the features.

Jon Iverson  |  Jan 23, 2000  |  0 comments

Pundits have long predicted that, as we move toward streaming more digital bandwidth into the home, consumers will begin to prefer video-on-demand services via their home network vs. renting films from video stores. This is not good news for the established bricks-and-mortar rental chains, many of which are fighting for ever-diminishing returns in crowded markets.

 |  Jan 23, 2000  |  0 comments

Showtime Networks has begun offering its East and West Coast feeds in high-definition video mode with Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound. <A HREF="">Showtime</A> is the first premium cable network to do so, the company claims.

Barry Willis  |  Jan 23, 2000  |  0 comments

What's a tag line worth? Try five million bucks. That's the price <A HREF="">LA Group, Inc.</A>, paid in mid-January for "As Seen On TV," one of the oldest phrases in the marketing lexicon. The domain name <A HREF=""></A> will be used for a portal site for customers looking for products they have seen&mdash;that's right&mdash;on TV.

 |  Jan 23, 2000  |  0 comments

Last week, Gemstar International Group announced that its subsidiary, <A HREF="">StarSight Telecast</A>, had filed a patent-infringement suit against <A HREF="">TiVo</A> in Federal District Court, Northern District of California. According to Gemstar, the suit claims "that TiVo willfully infringed certain Gemstar intellectual property by virtue of TiVo's deployment, marketing, offers to sell, and sale of personalized video recorder devices containing an unlicensed interactive program guide." Gemstar, which markets VCR Plus+, says it is seeking an injunction and monetary damages.

 |  Jan 23, 2000  |  0 comments

According to statistics released last week, factory-to-dealer sales of digital television (DTV) products closed out the year by posting a fifth consecutive month of growth in December. Numbers released by the <A HREF="">Consumer Electronics Association</A> (CEA) indicate that DTV sales last month surpassed 23,000 units, bringing sales figures for 1999 to 121,226, and total sales since the introduction of DTV (in August 1998) to 134,402.

Barry Willis  |  Jan 23, 2000  |  0 comments

The old <I>Mission: Impossible</I> TV series always opened with the head of the spy team picking up his instructions on a miniature tape recorder stashed in an obscure place. An authoritative voice would give Mr. Phelps his instructions&mdash;always with the option of declining the assignment&mdash;and then announce that the tape would self-destruct, which it did with a burst of flame and a puff of smoke.

 |  Jan 16, 2000  |  0 comments

Last week, <A HREF="">Saco SmartVision</A> announced that the world's largest video screen has been activated at 4 Times Square, flooding the area with nine-story-tall video images. The new screen is based on millions of discrete, individually energized red, green, and blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and measures 120x90 feet, following the curved form of the new Conde Nast Building at the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue and 43rd Street.

 |  Jan 16, 2000  |  0 comments

As announced last week, the 2000 Republican National Convention will be America's first political convention aired in high-definition television. But in an interesting twist, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson noted that the party has approved the request of <A HREF="">NHK</A> (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) to cover the Convention in HDTV. NHK says it will make available a digital high-definition feed to other "accredited" broadcasters choosing to take the signal for transmission to their viewers.

Jon Iverson  |  Jan 16, 2000  |  0 comments

It's been roughly 12 months since TiVo and Replay Networks first unveiled their digital video recorders, so it seemed a good time to ask how the format is doing so far. To answer the question, market intelligence company <A HREF="">TechTrends</A> conducted a survey of more than 1400 consumers for a new study, <I>The Digital Television Revolution: Success Factors for the Emerging Digital Video Recorder Market</I>. TechTrends claims that their research is the most comprehensive market study to date of the DVR market.

 |  Jan 16, 2000  |  0 comments

Home-theater fans who hope to add a DVD version of <I>Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace</I> to their collections when the videotape hits the streets in April will have a very long wait. Possibly as long as five years, according to publicity from <A HREF="">Lucasfilm</A>, which says director George Lucas wants to do "something special" with the DVD release, a project he probably won't get to until 2005, after he has finished the next two chapters in the "prequel" series.

Barry Willis  |  Jan 16, 2000  |  0 comments

A war of words has broken out between television networks <A HREF="">NBC</A> and <A HREF="">CBS</A> over the use of digital effects that altered the background during CBS coverage of New Year's Eve festivities in New York's Times Square. "Shocked and outraged" is one of the milder phrases used by NBC executives over the use of digital effects by CBS technicians to block a huge NBC video sign visible behind newsman Dan Rather during the broadcast. A CBS logo was inserted in its place.

 |  Jan 16, 2000  |  0 comments

One of the most cherished assumptions about a market economy is that competition drives down prices for goods and services. Widespread availability from numerous providers guarantees low prices, the conventional wisdom has it.